Privacy is a still a virtue

In this new age of Facebook, the concepts of privacy and intellectual property are fast becoming quaint remembrances.

Well, they're not.

When someone provides you a phone number or email address or offers a comment, there is a reasonable expectation that the information will be kept in confidence. (Discretion, after all, is the padlock that secures a successful relationship.)

Yet when you enter that information into a server that's hosted by a public entity, such as a state general assembly or political party, it can be placed in the public domain. Usually you give up any right to privacy or confidentiality when you click "I Accept" the first time you log in. Nothing is free. If you're using a public database or server, you're usually trading the information you gather in exchange for the convenience of access. The owner of the database isn't trying to provide data -- they're trying to gather it.

Ever read a "privacy policy"? Usually it's a crafty statement of how they intend to use the information you work so hard to collect. How many times have you been refused access to a website because you won't allow their "cookies"? (If the answer is never, then you need to adjust your privacy settings.)

We've learned from years of electronic campaign finance filing that the "important public information" contained in campaign finance reports is useful only to A) other fund-raisers, and B) those in the press and Democrat party who seek to do you harm, politically if not personally. If you're connected to a statehouse server, you can expect the same result.

Official statements notwithstanding, we've learned from the WikiLeaks mess what happens when a password and a thumb drive falls into the possession of a misanthropic youth under the control of a scheming adult. Often that's what you'll find behind the statehouse door marked "Democratic Caucus Staff".